Sonata: an elegant music client for MPD

April 27th, 2008 edited by Tincho

Article submitted by Fatih Altınok. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

Sonata is a GTK+ music player, written in Python. Actually, it is an MPD client, which is it’s most important advantage. MPD is a daemon that plays your music at background (maybe on a different computer). It can use different front ends, you can use it even from command-line and it continues playing even if your client or X is crashes. Sonata takes advantage of MPD and serves it in a clean and user-friendly interface.

Sonata - Mini

Sonata offers a clean interface to your music. You can choose a collapsed or expanded view. You can browse around tabs to reach your queue, play lists, library, song info or streams. The interface is customizable; you can remove unwanted tabs, playback buttons, progress bar, status bar and album cover. You can hide the main window by clicking the tray icon or by entering sonata -t into the command line —which you can bind to a keyboard shortcut to make it easier. And you can see the song changes from the notification pop-ups.

Sonata - Playlist Sonata - Library Sonata - Info Sonata - Options

Sonata has lots of features you’d want from it. It can fetch song lyrics from and saves them to the ~/.lyrics folder. It can “scrobble” your songs to (you can use a daemon for that too, but it’s your choice.) You can view and search your music database from the library tab. You can edit your ID3 tags, one by one or batch. It can show album covers —both local or remote, depends on your decision—. If you click on the cover art; you’ll go to the song info where you can enlarge the image, see the lyrics and other song-related information. It also has support for listening to on-line streams.

You may think these features are just ordinary for an advanced music player, but there’s one more thing. Sonata’s interface is simple and user-friendly. Forget about the music players which you can’t use unless it’s full-screen. Sonata doesn’t cover more place than a sidebar. Think about music players with lots of features that makes it complicated. Sonata has what’s necessary. It makes listening to music enjoyable, not confusing.

You can install Sonata if you’re using Debian testing or unstable; or Ubuntu on all repositories. Sonata is currently being developed and pretty stable. Ready to make you enjoy your music!

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 5 Comments »

Sitebar: centralized bookmarking

April 20th, 2008 edited by Tincho

Article submitted by Arve Seljebu. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

Like many people nowadays, I use many different computers. You use your computer at work, home, school and in public places. Maybe you also got several computers at home? One thing that easy comes to annoyance is bookmarking. With different bookmarks on every computer, I’ve long searched for a good way to sync my bookmarks between browsers and operating systems. Maybe you’ve used Google bookmarks, or similar social bookmarking. I’ve been using Google bookmarks, and my problem arrived when I wanted a good way to view my bookmarks in the Opera web browser. The solution was to add a speed dial to, which to me wasn’t very appealing to me.

Sitebar is an easy way store your bookmarks in one place. It has support for many browsers and platforms. It comes both as a service, or self installed software. The latter is my preference. The great news is that sitebar comes as a package in Debian. All you need is apache, mysql and php. Installing is as easy as apt-get install sitebar, set up a mysql database through the install wizard and then browse over to http://yourserver/sitebar/ and set up your preferences.

To get started, sitebar includes ways to import and export your bookmarks in many formats. It’s as simple as right clicking inside the bookmark area and choose Import Bookmarks. Sitebar can import the following input formats: Atom, OPML Link Type, OPML RSS Type, Opera Hotlist, Netscape Bookmark File, RDF/RSS, and XBEL. You can also select Auto, which is the easiest way.

The use of Sitebar may vary some between different browsers. For example, in Firefox several add-ons are available, and in Opera the side panel is used. That’s why the sitebar-menu will show up when right clicking the bookmarks under Firefox, but in Opera you will need to use CTRL left-click to get the same menu. As for use in Opera, I prefer getting Opera’s menu when right-clicking, which means you can open bookmarks in new tabs and such.

Adding bookmarks is simple too. You can make yourself a short cut to adding bookmarks in your browser. You could also right-click/CTRL-left-click where you want your new bookmark and then choose “Add Link”. And here comes the beauty, under “Add Link” you’ve got a button called “Retrieve Link Information” which gets title, description and icon from the web page you are adding.

After a link is added, you can email, copy, delete or edit it. There is also security features that lets you choose rights for trees and folders. User management and groups are available too. All of these functions are easy understandable.


Full screen shot of Sitebar in Firefox/Iceweasel
Sitebar in Firefox/Iceweasel
Sitebar menu
Sitebar menu
Importing bookmarks
Importing bookmarks
Adding a bookmark
Adding a bookmark
Creating a folder
Creating a folder



  • Easy installed
  • Integrated into many browsers
  • Your own private bookmarks, no need for signing up some service
  • No need to synchronize between browsers


  • Use vary between browsers

Sitebar has been available in Debian since at least Sarge, and in Ubuntu since Dapper.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 11 Comments »

wesnoth: a turn-based fantasy strategy game

April 13th, 2008 edited by Tincho

Article submitted by Vasiliy Faronov. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

The free software community makes games, too. Among the more well-known ones is the Battle for Wesnoth — a turn-based strategy game with a fantasy setting. It doesn’t have shiny 3D graphics or cut-scenes, but it is an interesting and original game and is fun to play.

This game is often simply called “Wesnoth”, and the package name is “wesnoth”.

A typical Wesnoth action
A typical Wesnoth action.

Wesnoth is played on a map divided into small hexagons. Each player controls a number of units which move over the map and attack enemy units. Different units possess different abilities and weapons. An important tactical element in Wesnoth is terrain: it determines the defensive ability of the units. For example, an Elvish Fighter can defend himself better in the forest than on open grassland, so enemies are less likely to harm him in the forest. As you kill more and more of your foes, your followers advance to higher levels, improving their skills and other characteristics. Careful positioning, movement and advancement of units is the key to victory.

The game’s interface is quite nice and usable. Among other things, Wesnoth ships with a complete in-game help reference where you can find detailed information as well as general overviews.

Wesnoth help
The in-game help, complete with pictures and hyperlinks.

The game ships with a number of campaigns that pit you against an artificial intelligence (AI). Of course, you can also play against other people. There is a dedicated multiplayer server where you can compete with your friends or strangers (note that direct connectivity with your opponent is not necessary, so you can play even from behind a NAT router or similar obstructions). For users of the stable Debian distribution, there is a server at — it lets you play with the Debian’s version of the game even after the developers release a newer one.

The virtual “lobby” of the multiplayer server
The virtual “lobby” of the multiplayer server.

Wesnoth can also be expanded: you may create your own campaigns, maps, units and all other sorts of things. A special add-on service has been developed to make it easy for players to find and install such enhancements. Just connect to it, pick what you like, click a button, and you are ready to go.

The add-on installation dialog
The add-on installation dialog.

The game is actively developed, has a well-maintained web site and a thriving community on the forums. Wesnoth has been available in Debian since release 3.1 “sarge”, and in Ubuntu since release 6.06 “Dapper Drake”.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 10 Comments »

A call for help

April 10th, 2008 edited by Tincho

Hi there,

Once again, we urge you to help us keep this site up and running. Since February we only had three posts, far from the twice a week intended publishing rate (the one article per day idea was dropped long time ago). We desesperately need new articles to publish, remember that this site is made from the material our readers contribute, so it’s up to you to keep it running! We also need help editing articles, but that’s void if we don’t get articles to edit.

Now, we have a only couple of articles to publish, on Sunday you’ll be able to enjoy one and for now we’ll switch to a weekly rate. If things go better, we could go back to twice a week. If things don’t go better, it will be time to end the project.

Thanks for your attention, Tincho.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 25 Comments »